Saturday, April 01, 2006
An Autonomous Character OYL
Prior to the actual release of Birds of Prey #92, a reader who had seen an advance copy spilled the beans over at the DC Message Boards. However, when the poster wrote that Dinah was being held captive somewhere in Asia, I immediately doubted this, since Gail Simone has made clear that Dinah's recent campaign to better her martial arts skills has partially been driven by a desire never to be anyone's hostage again. (And, one presumes, Simone should know better than anyone what Dinah's thoughts are, and what situations she might face.)
It turns out the poster was indeed very wrong; Dinah is not being held captive. Instead, Simone has cleverly established a compelling plot-element which only continued reading can explain: how has the pursuit of kung-fu mojo brought Dinah to willingly relinquish the personal autonomy she values so highly?
We learn that Dinah intends to subject herself to some very harsh training; at the start of her first "exercise," a bag is secured over her head and she's attacked without restraint by a group of club wielding men. Although that "fight," (portions of which are threaded through the last part of the comic), was difficult for me to read, this page made an equally strong impression on me.
If we had any lingering doubts that Dinah's journey is voluntary, Simone skillfully shows us the moments at which the character openly gives voice to her complicity in her own powerlessness. First, Dinah calls the older woman "Mother." Later, she corrects herself, telling the girl that her name is Tag.
In Black Canary's case, Gail Simone has made excellent use of the jump to "One Year Later." The character has been placed in the midst of a compelling new situation, and the reader awaits answers and further developments. In addition, there's a lot more going on in the book: I haven't even revealed several other big surprises Simone provides in this issue.
Birds of Prey remains one of my favorite DC titles.
As I said, this is definitely a title I'm looking forward to reading in the coming months.